Monday, April 11, 2016

Royal Mothers

Genealogies seem so boring that I often skip them altogether when reading through an Old Testament book. Today I want to provide you with a good reason to pause at the introduction of each King of Israel and Judah. There is an intriguing pattern in the way most OT kings are introduced. After their name and heritage is given, their mother's name is also provided. Immediately after her mention comes the verdict whether this king was good or evil in the sight of the Lord. I believe this is no coincidence but rather the summation of the mother's influence on her son's life.
"Amaziah...began to reign. His mother's name was Jeoaddin of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord." (2.Kings 14:1-3)
For other good kings and their mothers, see Jehosaphat (1.Kings 22:42+43), Azariah (2.Kings 15:1-3) Pekah (2.Kings 15:32-34), Hezekiah (2.Kings 18:1-3), and Josiah (2.Kings 22:1+2).

Jehoiachin... became king. His mother's name was Nehushta. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord." (2.Kings 24:8-9)
For other evil kings and their mothers, see Abijam (1.Kings 15:1-3), Manasseh (2.Kings 21:1-2), Amon (2.Kings 21:19-20), Jehoahaz (2.Kings 23:31-32), Jehoiakim (2.Kings 23:36-37), and Zedekiah (2.Kings 24:18-19).

It seems clear that the way these mothers raised their sons had a direct impact on the kind of king these boys turned out to be. If you are ever in doubt about your role of training your child up in godliness, turn to 1. and 2. Kings. These genealogies serve as an encouragement and exhortation to us mothers. Of course there are exceptions as seen in 1.Kings 15:9-13 where the good king Asa had an idol-worshiping mom. Generally speaking, though, it is obvious that we as mothers have a great impact on the spiritual inclinations of our children.

This is not written to discredit the role of the father, but to encourage mothers and grandmothers to do all they can to raise godly offspring. Ideally this should be a team effort, but even if you find yourself in a situation where the father is not present or shows little spiritual interest, it is your calling, mother, to teach your child God's ways, "talking of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (Deut. 6:7)

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the responsibility we bear. One simple way to weave spiritual instruction into our days is to have family devotions. Getting started is often the biggest hurdle, so I would like to give you three pointers:

1. Choose a time that suits everyone.
In order to make it a habit, it is good to set a regular time for family devotions. When to get together depends on your preference and practicality. When our kids were younger we used to have family devotions at night before tucking the kids in bed. Today our kids have differing bedtimes according to their ages, which makes it more practical to have devotions right after supper, when everyone is still gathered around the table.

2. Choose a devotional.
Of course you can read straight our of you regular Bible and explain the passage to your children, but there are also some great materials out there for kids. To narrow down the choices to a manageable amount I would like to give you a list of our family favorites.
Preschool Age:
- Pray and Play Bible I & II, Group Publishing Inc. (14 chapters each)
- ABC Bible Verses, by Susan Hunt (26 chapters)
Lower Primary:
- Big Truths for Little Kids, teaching your children to live for God, by Susan and Richie Hunt (36 chapters)
- The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones (44 chapters)
- Discovering Jesus in Genesis, by Susan Hunt and Richie Hunt (36 chapters)
- Discovering Jesus in Exodus, by Susan and Richie Hunt (36 chapters)
- Sammy and His Shepherd, seeing Jesus in Psalm 23, by Susan Hunt (11 chapters)
- Wisdom and the Millers, Proverbs for children, by Mildred Martin (25 chapters)
- School Days with the Millers, by Mildred Martin (24 chapters
- Story-time with the Millers, by Mildred Martin (12 chapters)

3. Keep it simple.
- Read the devotional or Bible passage.
- Give the kids the opportunity to ask questions or comment. The devotionals by Susan Hunt provide the parent with discussion questions.
- Talk about prayer requests.
- Pray, giving each family member the freedom to join in.
- We end our time by praying the Lord's Prayer, together.

May we be like the royal mothers, whose sons did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.